Always On, Always Connected

Shawn Van Every
Spring 2015
Tuesdays 12:10 PM to 2:40 PM

Important Resources:

Syllabus (this page):
Google Group/Listserv:!forum/itp-always-on-always-connected-spring-2015-group


With their always on and always connected nature, mobile devices (phones and tablets) have become the center of our connected self. They offer us the ability to access the network anywhere at anytime, enabling us to share our experiences and share in the experiences of others. They are also starting to emerge as the hub of an emerging set of smart personal accessories such as watches, glasses and jewelry.

In this class, we'll examine the current state-of-the art in mobile technology and smart devices. We'll focus on developing applications using the cross-platform Adobe PhoneGap and Apache Cordova platforms and along various accessory SDKs such as the Glass Development Kit for Google Glass and other emerging platforms.

ICM level programming experience is required.


Office Hours:

Wednesdays from 3:30PM to 5:30PM and Thursdays from 1PM to 3PM or by appointment


25% Assignments
25% Class Participation/Attendance
20% Final Project
15% Midterm
15% Presentation


The first half of the course is focused on App development with PhoneGap/Cordova. As much as possible, we'll cover developing with PhoneGap/Cordova in class but you are expected to augment this with online materials from (Free access for NYU) and other sites which will be assigned on a weekly basis. This will allow us to use more class time for covering additional topics, discussion, group work, help sessions and so on.

The second half of class we'll be working with new/emerging technology and new topics that aren't well covered that we'll have to discover together.

Assignments and Blog:

We will have weekly assignments that are relevant to the previous weeks material. Assignments must be documented (descriptions, photos, screen shots, code, thoughts, and so on) on your blog (see below). They are required and turning in an assignment late will adversely affect your grade.

It is expected that everyone in the class will create and maintain a blog or website for their assignments as well as other related material. You are welcome to reuse an existing blog but please make it clear which entries are for this course (perhaps with a category).

Be sure to enter your name, preferred email address and the URL to your blog (you can always edit this later) on the class wiki


This class is very participatory in nature and discussions will certainly take place outside of the classroom. The primary vehicle for these discussions (as well as administrative issues) will be the listserv. You are required to join.


Each week (starting the 3rd week of class) we will have student presentations. I will randomly divide up the class and schedule the presentation dates. The topic of the presentations should be a new or somewhat new mobile media technology (hardware, software or service) that relates to the overall topics in the class. The presentations should cover what the technology/service is, what is novel about it, how are people using it and so on.

Final Projects

Class will culminate with final projects. Groups of 2 to 3 students are encouraged. A project that is applicable to other classes that you are taking is also welcome.

Class Participation

This class will be highly participatory, you are expected to contribute to discussions and give feedback to other students. This (along with attendance) is 25% of your overall grade.


Mandatory. Absences will affect your final grade. If you are going to be absent, please let me know ahead of time if you can.


Excessive lateness will affect your grade. Don't be late.


Phone/Tablet/Laptop use is prohibited while other students are presenting or during discussion unless it is integral to the presentation or topic. While I am lecturing you may use them for note taking or class related work. In other words, respect your fellow students and don't check your email/Facebook/etc.

Clay Shirky's thoughts on the topic of laptops in class are worth a read.

Reading and other materials:

There will be assigned periodic videos, tutorials, and readings. These are required and are very valuable for the class.


There are quite a few blogs and other websites that track the mobile/wireless industry. I use the delicious tag #alwaysonalwaysconnected for links that I find interesting to this class:

Weekly Rundown:

Class 1 - 2/3

Introductions: Discussion, Syllabus and Examples, Mobile Devices, Getting Setup for Development
  • In your blog, write about your relationship to your phone? What is it's effect on you and your life?
  • Make sure to sign up for the Google Group and add your blog URL and email address to the class wiki.
  • Get running with PhoneGap and your environment (iOS or Android SDK)

  • Part 1 - Mobile Apps, a New Medium

    Class 2 - 2/10

    Mobile App Development with PhoneGap/Cordova
    Planning, Wireframing, Mobile UI Development Basics
    HTML, CSS, JavaScript refresher
  • Get started on the app idea you came up with in class. Write out the concept, use cases, and user scenario on your blog.
  • Wireframe and Start on the UI development (HTML/CSS/JavaScript).
  • Read and respond to The Fable of the User-Centered Designer on your blog.

  • Class 3 - 2/17

    Mobile Development Continued
    Single Page Application Frameworks
    Built-in PhoneGap Plugins
  • Using your existing app design (or starting something new), integrate jQuery Mobile.
  • Start building out functionality of your app using JavaScript with PhoneGap.

  • Class 4 - 2/24

    Cameraphones, Media Sharing, News, and Activism
    Media Capture, Playback, and Sharing
  • Develop a small quick application that features viewing, capturing, or sharing images or video.

  • Class 5 - 3/3

    Sensors - Compass, Touch, Accelerometer
    Location and Mapping
  • Extend some of the examples from class, for example, create a finger painting application or use the accelerometer to draw
  • Brainstorm and come up with 2 different midterm ideas, document them on your blog in whatever means you need to explain the idea to class (images, text, video, other apps, etc..)

  • Class 6 - 3/10

    Network Services, Data Storage/Persistence
    Midterm Discussion
  • Build, document and prepare to present your midterm project. Remember this is a one week assignment so while it is more than a weekly homework assignment it doesn't have to be a full application. It could be a portion of an overall idea or a smaller project. Please make sure you document the concept/idea, do wireframes and any other diagrams you might need, and finally execute it.
  • Schedule yourself in a presentation slot:

  • Spring Break - No Class on 3/17

    Part 2 - Connected Accessories - New Extensions of Self

    Class 7 - 3/24

    Midterm Presentations

    Class 8 - 3/26

    Bluetooth Low Energy
    BLE APIs
  • Create a simple app that interacts with the TI sensor tag.

  • Class 9 - 3/31

    Bluetooth Low Energy
    Building our own Accessories and Sensors
    Either, continue working with the TI sensor tag OR Prototype a very basic BLE accessory (a button?).

    Class 10 - 4/7

    Embrace your cyborg self
    Smart Watches and other Mobile Connected Accessories
  • Brainstorm and come up with one or more final project ideas, document on your blog in whatever means you need to explain the idea to class for next week (wireframes, design, images, text, video, other apps, etc..)

  • Class 11 - 4/14

    Final Project Proposals
    Network Sockets
  • Get started on your final project

  • Class 12 - 4/21

    Final Project Workshop, Additional Topics
  • Possibilities: Sockets, Speech Interfaces, Live Mobile Streaming, Notifications, Background Services, Image Processing, Image Analysis, Augmented Reality

  • Class 13 - 4/28

    Final Project Workshop, Additional Topics

    Class 14 - 5/5

    Final Project Presentations
    Expect Guests